5 Tips for Successful Onboarding

What does your onboarding process look like?

Is it paperwork and a gift basket on day one and then training day two? Only 12% of employees believe that their employer does a good job at onboarding.

For years, businesses have been calling a person’s first day on the job their onboarding. However, turnover can be up to 50% in an employee’s first 18 months. Why? If an employee feels like they have not been set up for success, they will start looking for other opportunities almost immediately.

So what should onboarding look like to be considered successful?

Onboard from the Employee’s POV

New employees are often inundated with new information, paperwork, and first impressions. It’s a lot to take in on the first day, so allow time for the employee to breathe. Schedule several breaks in their day, and don’t try to squish in all of the information they need to know on day one. Understand that you are the expert of your company, and they are not. Skipping what might seem to be common sense to you for the sake of time and energy, might leave the employee confused about processes, rules, or what their job is about.

Save the Paperwork

Spend the first day introducing the employee to the team. Give them an extensive tour. Let them spend time getting to understand the ins and outs of their new position. Save the paperwork for day two. One great way to get a person acclimated on the first day is to leave some snacks on their desk for the office, so the team can get to know the new hire over some bagels instead of often hated ice breakers.

Have a Long-Term Plan

Onboarding can take up to 3 months to successfully integrate a new employee. The first month is all about hands on shadowing. The new candidate will start by watching how the job is done and will slowly start working side-by-side with a team member. Spend time building muscle memory of the job. By watching how things are done for that period, the employee will have ample time to get questions answered about the job.

The second month should be spent with a team member watching the new employee take over a few things. Starting with smaller tasks and building to more difficult ones. That way the employee can have the time to learn and grow through critiques.

The third month should be the candidate taking over the role, but with regular check ins and reviews to see if they are on the right track to becoming fully independent. At the end of this phase, there should be another interview. This is to see if that candidate feels confident about their ability to do the job well.

Be Open to Suggestions

New eyes can be the trick to finding holes in procedures. Ask the employee if they have any suggestions. Maybe they know a more efficient way to handle a process. This is a great way to let the employee know that their input is important to the company.

Open Communication

Employees need to feel like they are being supported. Especially during the first few months. Give them the correct contact information for their team. Let them know who to contact in different situations. Is their email set up? Do they have a phone? Do they know where to find the person they need to? Their communication lines need to be open on day one. That way they have time to adjust to the software and be included in company news.


Even though these steps might be easier for larger companies, they are that much more important for small companies to implement. Often small businesses cannot afford to re-hire if the new hire quits immediately. Taking the time up front can increase your chances of keeping a hire by 82%. A new hire is an investment in your company. Nurture that investment by taking the time and energy to successfully onboard your new member.